Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hanukkah Lights, Hanukkah Books

Written by Michael J. Rosen
Illustrated by
Melissa Iwai
Harcourt, 2001

Chanukah Lights Everywhere by Michael Rosen is a good book to read aloud to very young children. Its narrator is a five-year-old boy. As he and his family celebrate each night of the Festival of lights, the little boy sees Chanukah lights everywhere. On the first night when his family lights one candle on the menorah, the boy thinks “the skinny moon beams like a proud candle flame against the dark sky.” On the fifth night, when his great-grandma gives him five shiny silver dollars, the young boy lines up the coins on his hand and arm. "They sparkle like five more lights in the candles’ glow.” On the seventh night, he and his family drive past the house of his best friend who celebrates Christmas. The boy sees one candle-lamp with a single bulb glowing in each window—seven altogether…just like the candles in his family’s menorah. On the last night of Hanukkah, the boy and his father stand atop their city building looking through a telescope at the sky. The young boy finds the seven stars in the Big Dipper and the North Star and feels as though God were “lighting his own menorah in the sky.”

Chanukah Lights Everywhere is a simply told tale. It’s also a counting book. Melissa Iwai pictures the objects the boy sees that seem to echo the number of candles lit in his menorah each night: one skinny moon, two headlights, three outside lamps illuminating the entrance to his house, four flaming burners on the stove, five shiny coins, six other houses with menorahs gleaming in their windows, seven Christmas candle-lamps glowing in the windows of his best friend’s house, eight stars shining in the sky.

Melissa Iwai’s acrylic illustrations bring coziness to Rosen's straightforward text. The houses’ windows glow with yellow light infusing the winter night scenes with warmth. Her use of bright colors and changing perspectives also add visual interest to this quiet story.
An author's note with information about the history and tradition of Chanukah lights is included at the end of the book.
Click here to view two illustrations from Chanukah Lights Everywhere.

Written by
Janice Cohn, D.S.W.
Illustrated by Bill Farnsworth
Albert Whitman, 1995

The Christmas Menorahs: How a Town Fought Hate is a nonfiction book. It's a true story based on events that happened in 1993 in Billings, Montana.

It’s Hanukkah, and the Schnitzer family has menorahs glowing in the windows of their house. On the third night of the holiday, someone throws a rock through young Isaac Schnitzer’s bedroom window. The police chief informs the Schnitzers that there has been a small group of people in their town causing trouble by passing out leaflets saying hateful things about some minority groups and committing hate crimes against Jews, Native Americans, and African-Americans. Community members work together to fight against the prejudice. Many citizens put pictures of menorahs in their windows to show their solidarity with the Schnitzers. After a time, the crimes begin to stop.

The Christmas Menorahs is a good story to share with children to show how people can band together to take a stand against acts of bigotry and to help protect minorities in their community.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for this, Elaine. I'm about to start a round-up of holiday picture book titles, just 'cause I always like a good challenge, and I can't find enough new Hanukkah titles. Ah well. I'll keep searching. Thanks for these older gems.

Bkbuds said...

Thanks for your posts on Hanukkah books. I'm off to the library armed with a list now ...